We stopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, Kentucky for pit stop during our travels home from South Carolina this past weekend. The Center was quite busy, and Jasper was entirely too excited to be out of the car, so I didn’t get to look around as much as I would have liked. I did spot a whole shelf of Wendell’s works, including some titles that I’ve had a difficult time getting my hands on.
As we hopped back in the car and continued our journey home through the beautiful foothills of eastern Kentucky, I couldn’t stop thinking about Berry’s decision earlier this year to stage a sit-in at the governor’s office to protest the state’s support of the coal industry and their mountaintop removal mining practices.
In a response to a reporter questioning Berry’s motives for the sit-in, Berry remarked:
You can go to a little stream that’s coming down off the mountain, and you know that one day that stream ran clear and you could have knelt down and drunk from it without any hesitation—it would have been clean. And now it’s running orange or black. And what people have to understand is that there’s heartbreak in that. Harry Caudill said “tears beyond understanding” have been shed over this by people who love their land and have had to sit there and see it destroyed. I live right on the Kentucky River, and that river’s running from those headwater streams. My part of the river is under the influence of this destruction that’s going on up above.
Wendell Berry, at 76 years-old (at the time), slept in the governor’s office for three days to protest the permanent destruction of his home. As we drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’m doing now (and not doing) for my grandchildren’s generation to protest the destruction of Creation going on all around us.
At a rally following the sit-in, Berry said this
If the adventure of the last few days by this small company of friends is to be more than a symbolic gesture, that can be only because all of you who are here, and many of our friends who are not here, will take it up, make it your adventure and your cause.